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From programmatic to programmable

In the advertising and marketing world, we seem to be forever chasing the next big thing. We want it bigger, better, more personal and more effective than ever before.Currently, programmatic buying is the biggest emerging trend due to its ability to marry data, targeting, and great creative.


Nigel Gilbert, VP of Strategic Development in EMEA at AppNexus, an internet technology company, sheds light on programmatic advertising and its future.

“We are currently on the verge of a major revolution in how we see and execute digital marketing. In the very near future, we will be able to have a much more personal, targeted approach to our advertising,” Gilbert depicts. He draws an example of a personalised “newsroom” of the future: a digital platform with the content relevant and interesting to our respective personal tastes, and the advertising among it reflecting our historical and real-time data.

Gilbert continues to explain how we can no longer predict consumer behavior and base our marketing effort on segmentation and the tools that we’ve been using before. We need not just to improve, but to rethink.

Rethinking programmatic

Gilbert takes the term programmatic buying to a new level by introducing the concept of programmable marketing and its three main pillars: real-time data, learning algorithms and partner ecosystems.

Our programmable future is fueled by data. It provides insights into where our customer is tomorrow, not just today. Gilbert calls for a culture change in organisations and encourages companies to value, understand and utilise their own data:

“Currently ‘digital first’ companies, tend to have a much better, deeper understanding of their data. But this is not the case with non-digital first companies, and indeed the vast majority of organisations.”

With data as the fuel, learning algorithms are the engines that run programmable advertising.

“The algorithms and the intelligence behind them can get very complex without adding campaign management work,” Gilbert says, and explains how learning algorithms save time and make campaign management easier along the way.

The genius behind a learning algorithm is its capability to pass on information based on certain parameters at an incredible speed.

“Basically it always tries to answer a yes or no question – who, where, what, how and when – drawing from real-time data, and data from the recent past. The algorithm can thus tell which users are more likely to perform the wanted action, bid more for these users, and show the right message at the right time,” he continues.

Finally, programmable marketing requires a partner ecosystem with a broad range of capabilities that can work together to help marketers enrich what they do.

Traditionally in marketing and advertising, we do not tend to align creative with media planning. Our analytics and data might also come in bits and pieces from many places, and none of these resources necessarily communicate with each other. We still, to a large extent, create, plan and execute our marketing in silos.

“In many cases, the media planning has been all but neglected, and we’ve seen more emphasis on focusing where the buyer is and how can we get to them. We really need to understand who our customer is, what their intent is, and at what moment we should engage. So in addition to media planning, we want our data and our creative teams to discuss and work together to enable brands to maximize the value of programmatic”, Gilbert emphasises.

In the partner ecosystem, trust plays a crucial role. Globally, there have been media agencies whose practises have been less than transparent. Only a few weeks ago, the CMO of one of the biggest advertisers in the world, Procter & Gamble’s Marc Pritchard, gave a speech at Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership Meeting in Floriday, stating his unhappiness with the current state of transparency, clarity and results in digital marketing.

The medicine to these growing pains of programmable marketing, according to Nigel Gilbert, is transparency in both the execution as well as the whole value chain.

“The value chain should be clear to everyone – you can’t have a value chain where 50% has been taken away by a non-transparent player,” he says.

Programmable future in Finland

In Finland, Gilbert assures, we are much safer due to our smaller market, trusted players and clear value chain.

What the transparency demand will require from our market as well, however, will be tighter cooperation among all the players – and breaking of the silos where we still largely operate.

“It should be a market level collaboration. My strategy shouldn’t be in divergence of all the other players in the market, but we should develop the market together,” Gilbert points out.

As the digital landscape develops, and our knowledge expands, best practices and technology will make the programmatic experience better for marketers and consumers.

Gilbert emphasizes that for marketers and advertisers it is important not to get overwhelmed, but instead, focus on the overall goals and see how technology can help reach them.

“I encourage the marketers, advertisers, agencies and media to figure out together what best works in Finland. Think about what it means for the Finnish consumer and collaborate, share ideas, be transparent, and allow technology be an enabler and a tool.”

When this happens, a new marketing model will blend the power of human creativity with the split-second precision as well as profit potential of programmable marketing.

  • Published: 17.2.2017, 00:00
  • Category: News
  • Theme: Digital

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